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Phytolacca dioica - (L.)Moq.

Common Name Bella Sombra
Family Phytolaccaceae
USDA hardiness 8-11
Known Hazards The leaves are poisonous. They are said to be alright to eat when young, the toxins developing as they grow older. Other parts of the plant, including the fruit, are likely to be poisonous.
Habitats Not known
Range S. America - Argentina.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Half Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Phytolacca dioica Bella Sombra


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Phytolacca dioica Bella Sombra
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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Phytolacca dioica is an evergreen Tree growing to 4 m (13ft 1in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9 and is frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms

Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit;  Leaves.
Edible Uses: Colouring.

Young leaves and shoots - cooked and used as a vegetable[183]. The leaves should not be eaten raw and only the young leaves should be used since they become toxic with age. The fruits are made into jellies or jams and are also used as a red colouring for food[183]. Some caution is advised. See notes on toxicity.

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.



None known

Other Uses

A red ink is obtained from the fruit.

Cultivation details

An easily grown plant, succeeding in most soils[1], though preferring a moisture retentive fertile soil in full sun or partial shade[200]. Plants can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut annually in the autumn[233]. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c[200]. A spreading shade-giving tree in its native habitat, it might develop as a shrub in a warm sheltered position in Britain[200]. The young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[233].

Propagation

Seed - sow autumn or spring in a cold frame[200]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. If you have sufficient seed, it might be worthwhile trying an outdoor sowing in a seed bed in early spring. Grow the plants on in the seedbed for their first year and plant them out the following spring. Division in March or October. Use a sharp spade or knife to divide the rootstock, making sure that each section has at least one growth bud. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Petiveria alliaceaGuinea Hen Weed04
Phytolacca acinosaIndian Poke23
Phytolacca americanaPokeweed, American pokeweed, Garnet, Pigeon Berry, Poke33
Phytolacca dodecandraEndod, Pokeberry23
Phytolacca esculenta 22

 

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Expert comment

Author

(L.)Moq.

Botanical References

200

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Janice Barket   Sun May 21 2006

I have eaten this plant all of my life and still do.I am 60 years old now. I have also dried the leaves and made tea from them. However my Mother taught me all about how and when to pick it. We need to focus more now on how to stop our food system from murdering us and our children. It is awful when even the Amish are dieing all around from things like Factory Farmers . Farmers were once looked to with respect but now have become Villians in the worst kind of way eversince Factory Farms and Conglomornates have taken over. The cures are in the plants for many diseases but we must stop using Herbisides and Insectiside that are chemical and get back to basics if at all posible. Paw Paw is natural and there are many more. Cancer is rampet and is induced by man not nature. I just had to put my dog down because they sprayed while I was not home and he was very ill. Afteer two weeks of watching Thank you. My dog had to be put down because of spray from Factory Farming and they sprayed 40 feet into the air all around my house. Gee, I did not know plants grew up there. THank you. Janice in PA

Gabriel Dürr   Sun Jan 25 2009

Thank you for your cultivation hints. Gabriel from Switzerland

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Subject : Phytolacca dioica  
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